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Our mission

Our mission is to research, document, and report on the family history and genealogy of the family of Frank & Jesse James, their related families, plus their relevant social communities. What we learn, we make available for entertainment, informational, and educational purposes. We invite collaboration.

Family History & Genealogy

The family history we collect and preserve includes stories, biography, photos, and documents. We identify source evidence for the core genealogy of the James family to document a substantive, all encompassing, and authoritative genealogy, always available for peer review or for individual consultation. We take on family claimants, to either prove or disprove claims. We also debunk charlatans, fraudsters, and con artists.

Books & Events

We currently are writing and publishing an epic five-volume history of the Jesse James family, to identify and define the core character, personality, behavior, and very soul of the James family, as it appears from generation to generation throughout the family's history. We publish reviews of pertinent books, TV programs, and movies, as well as monitor auctions for artefact fraud. The events we produce include appearances, lectures, presentations, book signings, tours, and the rare Jesse James Family Reunion, open to the public.

Media Relations & Education

We like working with institutions of learning, as well as with professional media outlets to bring an informed, fact-filled, and authoritative history of the Jesse James family to public attention. From artefact exhibits to personal participation, queries and consultation, or media appearances, we guarantee what the James family can provide from behind the scenes will educate, stimulate, and enlighten public interest.



Jesse James Soul Liberty

About Stray Leaves

Stray Leaves began publishing in 1997, following genealogy research showing the Jesse James family tree was much larger than previously recognized. Consultation with Jesse's great grandson, Judge James R. Ross, demanded, "Where's the evidence?" The evidence produced by Eric F. James was substantial. With the contribution of the research archive of Joan Beamis that produced the first family genealogy in 1970, research continues to grow, as does the Stray Leaves website and its social community of contributors and followers.

Judge Ross then directed Eric F. James to write a history of the Jesse James family. With so much new evidence discovered, and the first volume of Jesse James Soul Liberty already an award winner, four additional volumes will document and show the epic panorama of the historic James family. Meanwhile, public events like the Jesse James Gang & Family Reunion of 2002, will continue to offer the public personal contact and an intimate understanding of Jesse James and his family that no historian can provide.

Meet the team

Eric James Eric F. James Founder & Chief Leaf Blower

Eric F. James

Founder & Chief Leaf Blower

James Preservation Trust co-founder with Judge James R. Ross * Archivist of the Joan Beamis Research Archive that produced the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit * Supervised and executed exhumation and re-internment of Jesse's twin children, Gould & Montgomery James * Publisher of Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas * Author of Jesse James Soul Liberty

James Randall Ross Judge James R. Ross Co-Founder

Judge James R. Ross

Co-Founder: Where's the Evidence?

A great-grandson of Jesse James * Grew up with Jesse Jr. as his de facto father * Was privy to what other James family never heard * Wrote the book, I, Jesse James * President of the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association * Bank founder * Judge - Superior Court of Orange County, California * Famous for his landmark ruling against Disneyland, upholding social justice & civil rights for gays * Co-founder of The James Preservation Trust

Steve Loenard Co-Founder & Consultant

Steve Leonard

Co-Founder & Consoltant

Co-founder of The James Preservation Trust. * Underwriter of the James family's DNA study * First career was a musician in the rock group The Cretones * A second cousin to William Napoleon Hudspeth, Robert Nicholas Hudspeth, and to Joel Rufus Hudspeth, and also to the brothers Benjamin J. and George S. Morrow, all of Quantrill's Guerillas. Also a cousin of Playboy publisher, Hugh Heffner.

Our skills

While much of what we do gets done behind the scenes, our goal is to bring you what we find comprehensively in depth and with insight. We are dedicated to documenting the James family and to reporting on its revelations, in ways that are both entertaining and enlightening.


What people say

Eric James knows more about the Jesse James family than anyone in America.
Charles Broomfield
Former County Commissioner, Clay County, Missouri

What people say

Great story! Thank you for sending that article. I will use that in the newsletter and will credit you as the source.
Dick Eastman
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

What people say

Found my Daughter! ...it was as a direct result of the inspiration through your site that I found my daughter. Thank you for what you do at Stray Leaves! You will never know the joy that this process has brought into my life.

What people say

Eric James' gift for pulling new history out of genealogy is brilliant!
Russell Hatter
Curator, Capital City Museum, Frankfort, Kentucky

What people say

Thank you SO much! My mother is 91 years old, and has always wanted to know more about her grandmother...My mother had always said that she had ancestors on the Hook side who came from France but knew nothing more than that. You've now provided that verification.

What people say

Jesse James fanatics are going to be thrilled by thsi abundance of fresh new history. Soul Liberty is guaranteed to send historians scrambling for what they missed.
Nancy B. Samuelson
Author, The Dalton Gang Story & Book Reviewer for the Wild West History Association

What people say

Jesse James Soul Liberty presents new information never written about the Jesse James family before. This book is a must read!
John J. Koblas
Author, The Jesse James Northfield Raid, Confessions of the Ninth Man, & The Great Cole Younger & Frank James Wild West Show.

Authors, Techies,Patrons & Imagineers

WE WANT YOU! Our growth has been phenomenal. We have plans for much more. Contact us for volunteer opportunities in feature story writing, document transcription, videography & documentary film, web development & administration, market growth & development, and patronage development. Submit your ideas and resume now.

Collaborate with us

Family history continues as the backbone of our efforts. Over 150 genealogy researchers have contributed to our success. You can view an early partial list on our Contributors page. Their contribution has made it easier for the James family itself to break 130 years of self- imposed silence to make contributions of their own. Everyone benefits. If you have genealogy, stories, video or photos you think are relevant to the Jesse James family, contact us. We know there are many more cousins. There is much more family to discover. No one person will do it alone. Join us.

The process

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Search your genealogy

Our SURNAMES genealogy database is famous. Search the core Jesse James family, their in-law families, or extended James family & social communities. Among these 275,000 individuals, you may find some of your own. Query us for more from our larger database offline. If you find a relationship, let us know.

Sample Stories From Stray Leaves

Hey James Family, Send Us Your Ears

How can you tell a blood relative of Jesse James? Just look at the ears. Every few weeks I receive images claimed to be Jesse James, or Frank James. More often, the pictures are just of a James family claimant. Most are promptly dismissed. But sometimes, when the physical resemblance appears so close, the first thing I look at are the ears.

High School Pics of Jesse's Great Grandkids

For the James family, high school photos become really interesting when they are newly discovered photos of the great-grandchildren of Jesse James. Interest of the class photos increase when they photos are discovered to be provided by a previously unrecognized cousin.

Retta Younger and A. B. Rawlins - Destiney by Marriage

While history recognizes Henrietta Younger-Rawlins as a sister to the notorious Younger brothers, history has ignored her husband A. Bledsoe Rawlins entirely. When Retta married Rawlins, she brought together two families that had known each other for over 100 years, through three generations.

We love to hear from you

211 Wilderness Road, Danville, KY 40422, USA